If you are interested in capturing very interesting landscapes that seem to be out of this world, there are a number of locations that make it possible. In this article we’ll look at 13 different places in the United States that are perfect for photos that will really stand out.
Craters of the Moon National Monument – Idaho
Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho features volcanic cinder cones and lava fields that have resulted in a unique and beautiful landscape. The desolate landscape and volcanic features make it an interesting location for photography. The 7-mile Loop Drive provides the best and easiest access for photographing the area. Backcountry hiking is also an option if you really want to explore the area.
Goblin Valley State Park – Utah
In a state filled with amazing landscapes, Goblin Valley State Park stands out as one of the most unique. Thousands of hoodoos and pinnacles rise from the ground to give this landscape the appearance of being from some other planet. There are hiking trails in the park, or you can explore off trail to get the photos that you want.
Bisti Badlands – New Mexico
The Bisti Badlands are part of the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness in New Mexico. This remote and desolate wilderness area features a beautifully-eroded landscape that is perfect for unique photos. Colorful rocks and the expansive landscape make it a great place to photograph. It is accessible via the Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway.
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument – New Mexico
Also in New Mexico, Kash-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument features striking rock formations that rise as high as 90 feet. “Kasha-Katuwe” means white cliffs, and these amazing white rock formations make it an ideal location for photography. A one-mile trail leads through a canyon to an overlook, and a 1+ mile loop trail leads around the base of the tent rocks.
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument – Oregon
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon is known as a significant location due to the amount of fossils in the area. However, its stunning landscape makes it a great location for photographers as well. This national monument consists of 3 units that are geographically separated. The Painted Hills unit presents the most unique and striking landscape. The colors of the Painted Hills are best lit for photographs late in the afternoon.
Badlands National Park – South Dakota
Badlands National Park in South Dakota is well-known for its rugged and otherworldly landscape. The eroded buttes and pinnacles form a beautiful landscape that extends for many miles. The park’s north unit is more accessible and more popular with visitor’s than the south unit. Badlands Loop Road has many different overlooks that make it easy to photograph this amazing landscape. For details please see our Guide to Photographing Badlands National Park.
Terry Badlands – Montana
The Terry Badlands of eastern Montana is another great place for photographing a rugged landscape. The town of Terry is just off of Interstate 94, and the badlands are just a few miles outside of town. A scenic overlook is accessible from a dirt road off of The Big Sky Backcountry Byway. But the best way to experience the Terry Badlands is from the Calypso Trail, an unimproved dirt road.
Chiricahua National Monument – Arizona
Chiricahua National Monument in southeast Arizona is home to many hoodoos and balancing rocks. An 8-mile scenic drive provides plenty of great views for photographing, and miles of hiking trails are also available.
Devils Postpile National Monument – California
Devils Postpile National Monument is in California, not far from Yosemite National Park. This basalt columns of this rock formation make it very unique. The columns are up to 3.5 feet in diameter and up to 60 feet high, with most of them being hexagonal.
Yellowstone National Park – Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho
Yellowstone National Park is known around the world for its amazing geothermal features. Many of the hot springs and geysers give Yellowstone an otherworldly feel. Roughly half of the world’s geothermal features and two-thirds of the world’s geysers are concentrated in Yellowstone. This unique landscape, as well as abundant wildlife, makes Yellowstone a favorite of many photographers from all over the world.
Toadstool Geologic Park – Nebraska
Toadstool Geologic Park is in northwestern Nebraska and features a picturesque badlands landscape. The area is named for the unique rock formations that resemble toadstools. There is a 1-mile loop trail within the park that provides the best access and views.
Mushroom Rock State Park – Kansas
Mushroom Rock State Park is in central Kansas. At this park you will find interesting rock formations that resemble mushrooms. There are only a few of these mushroom rocks in the park, but they are quite unique, and there are also many other rock formations as well. This is a small park, only about 5 acres in size.
Cape Perpetua – Oregon
Cape Perpetua is on the coast of central Oregon. There are a few unique features here that are of interest to many photographers. Thor’s Well and Spouting Horn are saltwater fountains that spew water, based on the ocean’s tide. Thor’s Well, pictured below, is particularly popular with photographers as it appears that the water of the ocean is falling into an abyss. Devil’s Churn is a long crack in the rock that fills with water and sometimes explodes with crashing waves. All of these features are potentially dangerous and should be photographed with caution.